In last week's post, I touched briefly on the subject of 'living your truth' as a means for making lasting change in your life. Encouraging someone to do this sounds all well-and-good, but what does it actually mean to say this, or put it into practice? Ultimately, in order to "live" truth, you have to define what that means for you, as an individual. Once you get an idea or definition of your 'truth', it's time to turn on the introspective lens and determine if your actions coincide with it.
Personally, I think of terms such as 'authenticity', 'positivity', 'vulnerability', 'contribution', and 'confidence' as impactful elements to truth in my life. After defining those ideals, it was rather difficult to face the fact that in some areas of my life, I wasn't living very true to myself. An example of this: my constant and deliberate way of being nice to everyone around me. Seriously -- if anyone who has known me for any length of time is asked to list a single adjective to describe me, I'd put money on the fact they'd use, "nice". Now, don't get me wrong -- that's an incredibly humbling and appreciated description. The problem is the subtle way in which being nice actually goes against my personal truth in some circumstances. I want to be nice to others, there is no question of that; it's the magnitude by which I measure it, and with what purpose in mind that causes it to go awry.
At times, I've found that I put pressure on myself not to just be nice, but be the nicest, the most courteous, the most helpful. The reason behind being nice began to stray further from my genuine desire to be so, and became more about not being liked or appreciated if I didn't go to that excessive degree. The act ceased to be what I wanted, and became about what I presumed others wanted. It wasn't even a case of letting others dictate a part of my life; rather, it was me projecting what others thought, and letting that dictate a part of my life. And it was exhausting. I felt conflicted because something so near and dear to me was causing me inner stress and anxiety; had I been paying more attention at any of these times, I would have realized that my intentions and actions had become disconnected.
This is certainly not the only area I uncovered, but it illustrates very well the problem that arises when one lives their life for someone else (either in actuality, or in a projected form), and not for themself. They are difficult realizations, to be sure, but finding them and working through them in order to live more authentically as yourself is so incredibly rewarding.
Armed with this knowledge, and a desire to seek out truth in our lives, here's a simple exercise that can help you find more alignment with your inner truth:
As discussed above, take some time to write down virtues, actions, or values that you feel are central to how you want to live your life.
Think about times when any of these have been put into action, or put to the test in your life; make special note if you recall yourself being stressed, anxious, or otherwise distraught by those same virtues, actions, or values.
For each example you were able to recall, ask yourself why you felt as you did. Were you living for someone else and not yourself? Were you pretending to be something you are not? Understanding the 'why' of our actions can illuminate whether we based them on one of our truths, or on something entirely different.
Challenge yourself to be more mindful and aware in day-to-day life. If you had difficulty thinking of examples for point number 2, then pay attention to how you act and react in real-time. We create habits that we default to in many cases, and by practicing mindfulness and awareness, we can catch ourselves slipping into patterns that may have us stray from our truth. Use step number 3 when you find yourself in one of these situations.
Begin to make changes to these habits and patterns, and make active choices to live more in alignment with those virtues, actions, and values you defined.
Ultimately, living more truthful to ourselves is not a quick -- or often easy -- process. As with any self-improvement, it takes time and effort, but inevitably pays off in the end. I hope you find this exercise to be helpful and enlightening, and wish you all the best in being true to you!
** View the video for this post HERE **